“….that we may work together…” 3 John 8
3rd John is a follow-up letter from 2nd John, addressing the issue of hospitality to strangers. In 2nd John, the exiled apostle approached the subject from a negative assertion, while in this follow-up letter, John approaches the issue more formally from a positive approach. In the previous blog, I highlighted the phrase, “…that we love one another.” It was from this perspective John took on the role of a loving father speaking to his children concerning those who ‘run ahead’ without proper accountability, devising all sorts of half-truths which distort the real truth of the gospel found in Jesus Christ. John even directed the first century church to not allow the false teaching among them, and to not even allow the propagators of such to enter their homes. (See the previous blog.) [Note: Though the letter was probably written to the same house church of 2nd John, the letters of the apostles were circulated through all the newly birthed churches of that day.]
As strong as John’s directives were against false teachers, he was just as strong in his counsel for welcoming those who sacrificially distribute the truth of Christ. The letter is directed to a dear friend named Gaius. Theologians are unsure as to which Gaius was being addressed, as it was as popular a name in that time as ‘John’ or ‘Logan’ is today. There was a companion of Paul by the name Gaius, a Macedonian, mentioned in a confrontation which occurred in Ephesus between the silversmiths and worshipers of Artemis and Paul. (Acts 19:23-41) The name is found in scripture two other times (1 Co. 1:14; Acts 20:4), though there is no way to determine if he was one and the same as Paul’s companion.
John had previously written a letter which was intercepted by Diotrephes (v.9), who liked to dominate the church’s leadership and influence the new converts. It appears he took John’s earlier letter and applied John’s directive to all who claim to teach the truth, without vetting their credentials first (v.10), thus hindering the continued development of these babes in Christ. John exposes his duplicity and demonstrates his authority as an elder:
- · in the opening of the letter (v.1),
- · by commending the church for walking in the truth (v.’s 2-4),
- · by providing clarification on the issue (v.’s 5-8),
- · by exposing Diotrephes as a malcontent (v.’s 9-10),
- · by directing the church to follow good, not evil (v.11),
- · by his recommendation of Demetrius (v.12),
- · by his discernment of things that should be spoken face to face (v.’s 13-14).
John had always recognized himself as the one whom Jesus loved (John 13:22; 19:26; 21:7), and as one of he first-called disciples, he is recognized as one who walked with Jesus, giving him the credentials, privilege, and responsibility of being an elder in the first century church. However, John not only recognizes himself as an elder, but as THE elder… the leader of elders. It was John who was often taken aside by the Savior, along with Peter and James, to pray or converse, making John all the more qualified to speak authoritatively on the issues facing the Believers of his day. So, as the elder, John offers the church certain directives on welcoming those who sacrificially carry the truth of God. The Greek word used in verse eleven for “imitate” is “mimeomai”, from which came the English word “mimic”. The one who walks in the truth does not mimic evil. Paul taught the Thessalonians to not even give a hint of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22) The evil John exposed was the lack of kindness which had infected the church through the bully, Diotrephes. Their actions had no room for demonstrating love to worthy teachers of the Word, re-emphasizing John’s teaching on how to love.
In the final assessment of things, we are to possess love which wisely welcome the teachers of God’s Word who are rightly qualified in their holy living, their scholarship of study, and their love. This important lesson equips us
THAT WE MAY WORK TOGETHER
in the work Jesus has called us to… namely, making disciples… fully devoted to Christ and the Kingdom of God.
O, that the church in America would work together in rescuing souls from Hell’s wrath.